Call Your State Senator Immediately
By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
February 25, 2021
North Carolina churches that operate schools may soon have the same rights as other congregations when it comes to allowing concealed carry permit-holders to have their guns with them during services.
Senate Bill 43, Protect Religious Meeting Places, won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate this week and is headed to the full body on Monday.
“This legislation responsibly addresses a tremendous need, where churches that double as places of worship and schools are currently vulnerable,” the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told the Rules Committee Wednesday. “These churches need your help, and I implore you to give them the same right as other churches and allow them to provide for themselves the protection to which they have a God-given right.”
Creech reminded lawmakers that churches across the United States had experienced shootings, citing at least a dozen such incidents since 2007. He said 70 parishioners had been killed and 38 wounded while “peacefully studying the Scriptures, singing hymns, praying, and strategizing about how they might serve their communities.”
He also thanked the bill’s primary sponsors — Sen. Danny Britt (R-Columbus), Sen. Warren Daniel (Caldwell), and Sen. Todd Johnson (R-Union) — for bringing it before the Senate.
Just one page long, the bill would simply carve out an exemption for churches that share their property with schools, allowing them to have armed security teams during service times as long as their schools are not in session. Currently, churches that also have a school as a part of their facilities are not allowed to have concealed carry or security teams.
Several pastors attended Senate committee meetings to speak in favor of the bill.
The Rev. Matt Morrison of Gospel Light Baptist in Walkertown said his church is in the process of training about 25 men to serve on a future safety team.
“We are being trained by a former U.S. marshal who was appointed by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office to assist churches in establishing well-trained response teams. It is an in-depth protracted series of sessions,” Morrison said. “What I am saying is our churches will take the necessary steps to ensure responsibility and accountability. We strongly believe we have a moral obligation to offer a ready response to an active shooter situation through the means of armed first responders.”
The Rev. Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist in Winston-Salem, said data shows it takes law enforcement in his area between 10 and 14 minutes on average to respond to a 911 call.
“If a gunman is in our church and he is pulling the trigger and he is reloading in ten minutes, if we don’t take him out, if we are not able to stop him, he can take out most of our congregation,” Baity said. “He can kill multitudes of people. And it’s just not fair to us as a church not to be able to protect the people who are worshippers in our church. They come there believing they are going to be safe when they arrive, and it is against the law for us to protect them.”
Baity said it is bad enough that the church cannot legally protect its school children with an armed civilian force during the week, but even worse that it is penalized on Sundays because of having the school on Monday through Friday.
“We believe the current law as it stands in our state literally infringes on our Second Amendment right, and it punishes law abiding citizens,” Baity said.
As amended in the Judiciary Committee, the bill would also give churches — whether they have affiliated schools or not — the option to ban guns on their premises, simply by posting conspicuous signage to that effect.
The committee rejected a request from Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) to further amend the proposed law to make it illegal to carry weapons at churches used as polling places. Marcus also expressed concerns that a gun owner might leave a weapon behind in a church restroom where it could fall into the hands of a student.
“From what we have seen in recent years, I suggest this feared scenario is considerably less likely and even less consequential than some deranged or hate-filled soul who decides to kill both adults and children in mass, especially when the gunman knows that such people are unprotected,” the Rev. Creech said.
If the law is passed, it would take effect Dec. 1, 2021.
TAKE CHRISTIAN ACTION: Contact your State Senator and ask him or her to support Senate Bill 43, Protect Religious Meeting Places. The legislation is expected to be taken- up on the Senate floor as early as Monday. The Christian Action League urges you to make a phone call to their office. If you call your State Senator over the weekend when he or she is not in the office, be sure to leave a voicemail stating your support for the measure. Senate members need to hear from you.
If you don’t know who represents you in the State Senate, take the following steps:
• Go to this link on the North Carolina General Assembly’s website
Find Your Legislators
• Under the heading ‘By Address’ type in your home address.
• Just underneath your address, click on ‘NC Senate’
• After the first three steps the names of your U.S. House, NC House, and NC Senate lawmakers should appear in the left margin.
• Click on the name of your NC Senator and his or her contact information should appear.
Now that you’ve taken these steps to find your legislators, be sure to save this information for future reference.
Your voice does make a difference. So, please make the call and urge your State Senator to support Senate Bill 43, Protect Religious Meeting Places.